Rabbits have a gigantic sweet tooth! They will absolutely love you for giving them some yummy treats, but we need to be careful that we don’t give them too many. Rabbits have a sensitive digestive system and too many sweet treats can easily make them sick. It’s not always obvious what kind of treats are good for rabbits though. It can be very confusing for first time rabbit owners.
What to give rabbits as treats? The best kinds of treats to give rabbits are fresh or dried fruits and vegetables. They should be unsweetened and cut into small chunks to avoid overfeeding the treats to your rabbit. Depending on the rabbit’s size, you should only give your rabbit up to 1-2 Tbsp of treats per day.
But like a child going after cookies, rabbits will go after more treats than are healthy. If left to their own devices, they will happily gobble up way more than they should. To make matters even more confusing, there are many types of treats that are marketed for rabbits that are very unhealthy for them. We need to learn to be discerning so that our rabbits can have some healthy, yummy treats every day.
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How many treats can a rabbit have?
Rabbits have a sensitive digestive system, so they should not have too many treats in a day. You should limit the amount of treats you give your rabbit to about 1-2 Tablespoons per day. This is just a general guideline to make sure your rabbit is not eating too many treats.
The amount will vary a little bit depending on the size, activity level, and health of your rabbit. Smaller rabbits will obviously be able to have fewer treats than larger rabbits, and healthy rabbits have a little extra every once in a while (but not every day).
|Weight of rabbit||Amount of treats daily|
|2 lbs||2 tsp|
|3 lbs||1 Tbsp|
|4 lbs||1 Tbsp + 1 tsp|
|5 lbs||1 Tbsp + 2 tsp|
|6 lbs||2 Tbsp|
|7 lbs||2 Tbsp + 1 tsp|
|8 lbs||2 Tbsp + 2 tsp|
|9 lbs||3 Tbsp|
|10 lbs||3 Tbsp + 1 tsp|
A rabbit’s digestive system depends on a very high fiber diet. To keep their digestion moving, rabbits need to have a high amount of hay in their diet and only a small amount of high-sugar foods like fruits and vegetables. Some people even go to the extreme of not allowing their rabbit to have treats at all, to protect their rabbit’s health. However, giving rabbits some yummy fruits and vegetables as the occasional treat is okay as long as they’re given in moderation.
Fruits and vegetables that are safe for rabbits
Most common fruits and vegetables that we humans eat are safe for rabbits, but there are some exceptions. Anything in the onion family, for example, should not be given to rabbits because these plants are poisonous in high amounts.
In other cases you need to be careful about which parts of the plant you give your rabbit. The fruit of a tomato plant is safe for rabbit consumption, but the leaves, stems, and other plant parts can be poisonous in large amounts. It’s always best to double check that the food you are giving your rabbit is safe, just in case.
You also want to be sure to introduce any new foods to your rabbit slowly. New foods can confuse a rabbit’s digestive system, potentially causing negative effects that cause their digestion to slow down or stop. If this is the first time you are giving your rabbit a banana, then only give them small pieces on the first few days, until you are sure their digestion can handle it.
Fruits and vegetables for rabbits
|Apples (not the seeds)||Almonds|
|Tomatoes (only the fruit)|
Healthy leafy greens
Instead of giving your rabbit sugary fruits and vegetables as treats, you can choose to give them some leafy greens as treats instead. This is a healthier way to give your rabbit some yummy food for good behavior, and rabbits really love to eat their greens! In fact, rabbits should be given a good amount of fresh leafy greens on a daily basis. Depending on the size of your rabbit, you should give them about 1-2 cups of leafy greens every day.
You can give your rabbit their daily greens a single meal, but you can also use a portion of their greens to use as treats throughout the day. If you figure out what your rabbit’s favorite greens are, you can easily use them to reward your rabbit for good behavior or teach them how to do fun tricks.
Healthy leafy greens for rabbits include:
- Bok choy
- Broccoli leaves
- Butter lettuce
- Carrot Tops
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Frisee lettuce
- Leafy lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- Spring greens
- Turnip greens
- Yu choy
Just like with the sweet treats, you should introduce any new greens to your rabbit slowly. This will help to ensure that their digestive system doesn’t react negatively to the new food. Just give your rabbit a small amount of the new greens for the first few days that you give it to them.
Store bought treats
Getting fresh treats for rabbits is usually the best way to go, but that’s not always practical. Fresh fruits and vegetables can go bad pretty quickly, so it’s nice to have some treats on hand that have a longer shelf life.
Unfortunately, not all treats that are marketed toward rabbits are healthy for them. It’s convenient to pick up a bag of treats to keep on the shelf, but you don’t want to pick up just any bag from the rabbit food aisle. Most of the treat mixes contain unhealthy foods that can cause gastrointestinal problems if the rabbit eats too many of them, such as corn or seeds.
But that doesn’t mean all treats sold for rabbits are bad. You just need to take the time to look at the ingredients and determine if everything is safe for rabbit consumption.
Baked hay treats
Baked hay treats are actually relatively healthy for rabbits. They are made up of mainly timothy or alfalfa hay and have just a little bit of sweet flavoring to make them enticing for rabbits.
There are many different brands that offer these hay treats. You can usually find them in any pet store or online, but you do want to check the list of ingredients to be sure the brand you choose is healthy. If you don’t see timothy hay, alfalfa hay, or some other form of hay as the first ingredient on the list, then it might be best to pick a different brand.
My recommendation is the Oxbow Simple Rewards baked hay treats. You can get these treats in many different flavors, so your rabbit can decide which kind they like best. Try banana apple, carrot and dill, or bell pepper flavors (bell pepper is a big hit in this house). In general, Oxbow is a brand that I trust to have healthy food for rabbits, and their treats are no exception.
Dried herb blends
Another type of treat you can look for is blends of dried herbs to give your rabbit. These treats are great for using if you have a picky rabbit who needs to eat more hay. You can sprinkle an enticing blend of dried herbs and flowers into their pile of hay, and by doing so encourage your rabbit to eat more of their healthy hay while they forage for treats.
My go to place for finding these herb blends is an online store called Small Pet Select. They are an excellent small business that does their best to make healthy treats and toys for rabbits. If you’re interested in checking out their dried herb blends, they have a number of samples you can try. My rabbit’s favorite was the Flower Power Berry blend, but there are many other yummy herb blends to try. You can get 15% off of these herbal blends by visiting this link!
Dried fruits and vegetables
Dried fruits and vegetables is another way to get long lasting treats for your rabbit. You can even purchase these directly from your local grocery store. When you purchase any pieces of fruits and vegetables, you’ll want to make sure they are safe. Check the ingredient to see if there is any added sugar. Many dried fruit packages sold for humans like to sweeten the deal with lots of extra sugar. That will be detrimental to a rabbit’s health, so you want to go for plain dried fruit.
If you can’t find any dried fruits with no extra sugar at your grocery store, you can also get these types of treats from Small Pet Select. They have a wide variety of dried fruits to choose from, no sugar added! (don’t forget to click this link so you can get 15% off your order)
You can also try your hand at making some yummy treats for your rabbit. You can create these treats using your rabbit’s usual pellets and some healthy safe ingredients. Homemade treats won’t have as long a shelf life as those that you’ll get in the store, but they can still last a month if they are stored in the refrigerator. You’ll also know exactly what’s in these treats, so you won’t have to worry about any hidden ingredients.
If you’re interested in finding some fun DIY treats for your rabbit, check out some of these recipes that I’ve tested. They’re easy recipes, even for an amateur baker like me. More importantly, they’ve all been bunny approved!
What treats to avoid giving your rabbit
Because rabbits have such a sensitive digestive system, you need to be very careful about what you give them as treats. Rabbits aren’t always discerning on their own, and will often eat whatever foods are put in front of them, even if they are very unhealthy. This means we need to not only limit the amount of treats you give them, but also not offer any foods that are bad for their health.
As a rule, any processed human foods should not be given to rabbits. This includes obvious foods, like cookies and roast chicken, but also some less obvious foods. For example cereal, bread, and jams should not be offered to rabbits.
The list of human foods that should not be given to rabbits can go on forever, but here is a list of some common foods to avoid giving a rabbit:
- Fried rice
- Granola bars
- Ice cream
- Peanut butter
Not all plants are safe for rabbits to eat. There are many plants or parts of plants that are toxic to rabbits if they are consumed in high quantities, so you want to be careful with any house plants or garden plants. Make sure any plants that are potentially poisonous to rabbits are kept out of their reach.
If your rabbit managed to take a small bite out of a poisonous plant they will most likely be fine and there is no reason to panic (unless it’s an extremely toxic plant like hemlock or foxglove). Just keep an eye on your rabbit’s behavior and droppings over the next couple of days to be sure they are feeling okay. However, you don’t want to allow them to eat the entirety of a plant that is toxic. If your rabbit managed to get into the garden and eat a large amount of toxic plants, you should contact your vet immediately.
Yogurt treats are a type of treat that is unfortunately sold and marketed for rabbits and other small animals. They are colorful treats that are often placed front-and-center in the treat aisle, making them enticing for rabbit caretakers walking by. Most rabbits also love these treats, making it seem like they must be safe for rabbit consumption. Sadly these treats are very bad for a rabbit’s long-term health and should be avoided.
Milk products, in general, should never be a part of a rabbit’s diet, but the real danger of yogurt is the incredibly high sugar content. Rabbits that are fed yogurt treats over a long period of time often develop severe gastrointestinal issues that can be life threatening. They can also develop tooth problems, as the sugar from the yogurt treats causes tooth decay.
Pellet and treat mixes
You generally want to avoid any bagged treat mixes that have a large variety of colorful pieces or many different types of dried foods. These mixes almost all contain a large amount of foods and sugar that are not good for rabbits. This includes rabbit food pellet mixes that have lots of extra colorful pieces in them.
If you want to check that the treat mix you like to get for your rabbit is healthy, look at the ingredients list. Make sure every single ingredient is among the safe foods for rabbits.
Nuts, corn, grains, and legumes
Believe it or not, most nuts, corn, grains and legumes are not healthy for rabbits and can cause digestive distress. This is a large number of ingredients that are often included in treat mixes that are marketed for rabbits. Make sure to avoid any treats that include these foods.
What foods to avoid:
Find your rabbit’s favorite treats
Not all rabbits will like the same treats. Some rabbits will eat just about anything, while others are very picky with the treats they like to eat, so it might take some time to figure out which treats your rabbit likes best.
Try leaving different kinds of treats in their food bowl and see which ones they eventually take a nibble of and which ones they completely ignore. Then you’ll know which treats you can use to reward our rabbit for good behavior.
Using treats is also a good way of keeping an eye on your rabbit’s health. If you give them their favorite treat at the same time every day, your rabbit will learn the routine and come running. If they ever fail to come and get their yummy treat, this is a sign that your rabbit might not be feeling well.
Use treats for training
You can also use treats to train your rabbit or slowly gain the trust of a shy rabbit. Use the yummy treats as positive reinforcement so that your rabbit will learn to associate you with the yummy treat you give them. You can teach them how to give you high fives, kisses, or even hop up into your lap. Once you know what treats your rabbit likes, it becomes very easy to teach them new things and bond with your rabbit. Just make sure you don’t give them too many treats!
- “Suggested Vegetables and Fruits for a Rabbit Diet.” House Rabbit Society. https://rabbit.org/suggested-vegetables-and-fruits-for-a-rabbit-diet.
- “Treat Foods.” House Rabbit Society. July 10, 2011. https://rabbit.org/faq-treat-foods.